I recently got to spend some time at a working farm and family friendly venue with animals to pet, a hay maze, some slides, a little zip line, and some big trikes and pedal cars. The little track with the trikes and pedal cars provided an interesting lesson in leadership and human nature.
The little track had about 5 or 6 different sizes and styles of self-propelled vehicles. And, invariably, as kids entered the area, they were seemingly “drawn” to the biggest pedal cars on the track. It was almost a metal and magnet kind of attraction. Children would walk right past smaller pedal cars and big trikes and go straight for the biggest pedal cars that they could find.
I watched it happen and here is what happened next. A small child would get to the big pedal car and try to mount it. If they were successful in doing that, they then tried to have their little feet and legs reach the pedals. Only to be disappointed. Most of the time, they were not tall enough to reach the pedals. Oh, they would stretch and strain. But, in the end, their legs just weren’t long enough.
Either the cars were too large for the children, or the children were too short for the cars. I saw it with some of my own grandchildren. They wanted to ride on the biggest car that was out there. They couldn’t resist. But, in either case, there was a size issue. And whether or not it was the size of the child or the size of the cart, it just became frustrating and not a whole lot of fun. Fortunately, the wise old grandfather saw what was going on and was able to coax them onto a smaller and more “size appropriate” vehicle. Then they were able to have some fun.
What is the Leadership Lesson?
Many times we find ourselves drawn to the top leadership positions. We want them. We honestly feel that we could be successful in them. But, we don’t stop to consider the fact that size matters. We don’t pause to consider the size of the organization or the size of our leadership abilities.
The size of our leadership abilities — This is one of the hardest things to honestly and objectively assess. It is an uncommon leader who can assess his own leadership ability and admit that he might not be ready to jump to the next level of leadership. And, if by some strange twist of fate they find themselves at the higher leadership level, they determine pretty quickly that being at this level is not near as much “fun” as we thought it would be.
The size of the organization — This is not a difficult thing to assess. But, it can be difficult to categorize objectively. Nevertheless, the size of an organization, and leading bigger and bigger organizations throughout our leadership journey can be a seductive appeal. But, just like the pedal cars, bigger doesn’t mean better. In fact, half of the biggest pedal cars did not function. The chain was broken, the pedals had fallen off, or some other mechanical problem prevented them from functioning. So too, in many larger organizations, we find more and more brokenness and dysfunction.
So, what should I do?
Find your “sweet spot” — Find out what level of leadership skills you have. Then, find that “right size” organization that you can lead and lead well.
LeadershipVoices can help you. We have some leadership diagnostics and we are connected with some of the best leadership coaches and mentors that are available. And we would love to help you determine the “right size” that fits you and your skills the best.